We released the new Migration and Development Brief earlier today. Remittances to developing countries are estimated at $404 billion in 2013, up 3.5 percent compared with 2012. Growth in remittance flows to developing countries is expected to accelerate to an annual average of 8.4 percent over the next three years, raising flows to $436 billion in 2014 and $516 billion in 2016.
I have been writing about H1B visa in the past four years. This is the second year in a row since April 2008 that H1-B visas applications exceeded the 85,000 cap in the first few days. This FY 20015, the cap was reached on April 7. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency has received more than the required number of applications needed to fill the cap for the fiscal year as well as for the 20,000 H1-B petitions under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. This year USCIS will use a lottery system to choose petitions to consider for the visa.
KNOMAD’s Thematic Working Group on Environmental Change and Migration is organizing a symposium on May 28-29, 2014, and we very much encourage you to submit a paper and participate. We also hope you will share this call for papers widely with your colleagues.
Paul Collier and Justin Sandefur are discussing migration with recent postings on the popular From Poverty to Power blog hosted by Duncan Green of OXFAM. But, can we please first agree on the question?
Collier’s blog-post starts with the question of how emigration affects people in countries of origin, and goes on to emphasize that the pertinent issue is “whether poor countries would be better off with somewhat faster, or somewhat slower emigration than they have currently.” His answer, in a nutshell, is that it depends: on the country of origin (“in small countries that are falling further behind … brain drain predominates” when there is further skilled migration) and the emigrant (students – good, unskilled – fine, skilled worker – may already be excessive). To this, one could also add that it depends on the host country (and the scope for migrants realizing their potential there) and the circumstances of the migration (voluntary or forced).
The core of the difficult challenge to migration policy making is replete with a fear of loss of national, cultural and personal identity. So much so that some authors have compared unabsorbed diasporas to the level of unsafe carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (see here). So I have started reading about identity and human diversity, starting with Amartya Sen’s “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny” to now Richard Lewontin’s “Human Diversity”. I was struck by Sen’s observation that everyone has multiple identities and should have the choice, and responsibility, to prioritize those identities. I am even more struck by Lewontin’s finding that racial classification (Caucasian, African, Mongoloid, South Asian Aborigines, Amerinds, Oceanians, and, Australian Aborigines) has very little correlation with genetic variations between humans, that majority of genetic variation is found within (rather than between) populations.
EU MPs approve funds for asylum, migration and border surveillance until 2020
EU countries will have to allocate more funds to improve their asylum systems and the integration of migrants, under the new Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund for the next seven years passed by Parliament on Thursday. The text sets minimum amounts that each EU country will have to spend on these policies. MPs also approved the new EU Internal Security Fund, designed to improve border surveillance and police cooperation. http://goo.gl/14GZTN
Rich China's clean air migration
The term environmental refugee has taken on new meaning in China as wealthy residents of heavily polluted urban centers look to remote locales for respite from debilitating air pollution engulfing the region. As rural migrants continue to flock to cities in search of work, those who have made their fortune are looking elsewhere for clean food, water and air. http://goo.gl/sNLQj3
Bulgaria sees energy, migration risks from Ukraine crisis
The Bulgarian government said on March 4 that it was setting up a national staff to monitor the situation in Ukraine and take steps to minimize risks to national security, which it sees as including risks to energy supplies and possible increased migration pressure. The government said this after a specially-convened meeting of the cabinet’s national security council. http://goo.gl/GcQJUd
Net migration to UK jumps 30% in a year to 212,000
This is the third consecutive quarter that the net migration – the number coming to live in Britain for more than 12 months minus those leaving to live abroad for longer than 12 months – has risen. The Office for National Statistics said the unexpected rise of 58,000 in the 12 months to last September has mainly been fuelled by migrants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Poland. Overall figures for non-EU migration show that immigration from outside Europe fell from 269,000 to 244,000.
EU Migration “readmission agreement” with Turkey
Many illegal migrants enter the EU through Turkey. Undocumented migrants from the EU to Turkey or Turkey to the EU would have to be returned under an EU-Turkey “readmission” agreement signed by both parties in December and endorsed by Parliament in February 2014. The return rule would apply not only to EU nationals and Turks, but also to third-country nationals who enter either the EU or Turkey via the other. The EU and Turkey started to negotiate a readmission agreement in 2002, but it only resulted in a deal now that Turkey's demand for visa liberalisation has been taken into account.
We tend to think of migration in the international context, but a greater scale of migration takes place within a country. China estimates that some 3.6 billion trips will be made during the 40-day period surrounding the Lunar New Year holiday this year. Some are on vacation and business, but most are to return home. Baidu even visualizes this massive internal migration from one place to another on a China map.
People cross provincial boundaries for many reasons – to find jobs, to earn higher incomes, to attain better/higher education or skills, to access hospital and other public services, to join family members, or to escape political instability or violence. Research has shown that, of all these, average wage differences are the most important factor to explain internal migration.
Remittances from migrant workers constitute a key source of finance for developing countries: in 2013, they stood at more than $ 410 billion, more than three times the size of official development assistance (World Bank, 2013). For many economies, remittance inflows exceed 10 percent of GDP. During the recent global financial crisis, remittances also proved much less volatile than other sources of finance, such as bank loans or portfolio investment. Remittances can therefore play an important role in pulling and keeping millions out of poverty.
But what precisely are they key factors driving remittances? For instance, how do they depend on macroeconomic and structural conditions in the migrants’ host country and country of origin? And what are the main barriers to remittances? There already exists a voluminous theoretical and empirical literature on these issues. However, it remains inconclusive, largely owing to limited data, as well as problems in establishing the direction of causality.